Things Fall Apart Chapters 1-13 SUMMARIES

Chapter 1 Okonkwo’s background-beat the cat in a wrestling match, became a very successful man; fears being like his father Unoka who he viewed as weak and was always in debt; Umuofia is the main town out of 9; Okonkwo became successful growing yams after a couple years of bad luck; Unoka loved to play the flute and loved language
Chapter 2 A meeting is called and it is learned that someone from Mbaino killed the wife of an Umuofian tribesmen; Okonkwo tells them that they must give them a virgin and a young man or the 2 towns must go to war-Okonkwo is chosen to represent the fierce clan (he’s taken 5 human heads); the virgin is given to Ogbueifi Udo and the 15-year old boy, Ikemefuna, is given to Okonkwo and his 1st wife-he already has 3 wives and 8 children; his oldest son, Nwoye, is very lazy and reminds Okonkwo of his father so he beats and nags him
Chapter 3 Okonkwo was a sharecropper; his father is left in the forest to die because of swelling, which is offensive to the earth goddess; Okonkwo is given 800 yam seeds to start a farm and he receives 400 more-rain and drought leave him with only 1/3 of that-uses that as motivation; Okonkwo values action vs. silence (no words)
Chapter 4 Ikemefuna starts to settle in and has a giant influence on Nwoye-tells many stories and showcases many skills; Okonkwo grows fond of him and Ikemefuna calls him father; Okonkwo breaks the Week of peace by beating his wife after she gets her hair braided before making dinner-has to sacrifice a goat and hen and pay a fine of 1 length of cloth and 100 cowries; villagers begin to clear the land for farming-Nwoye and Ikemefuna help plant yam seeds-Okonkwo sees improvement in Nwoye’s masculinity
Chapter 5 The village holds the Feast of the New Yam to give thanks to the earth goddess, Ani. Okonkwo doesn’t like feasts because he doesn’t like doing nothing (idleness); women decorate the huts, themselves, throw away old yams, and use cam wood; Okonkwo gets mad and beats his second wife, Ekwefi, because he is bored; he starts to go hunting until he hears a remark made by Ekwefi and almost shoots her; the wrestling contest is the next day and Ekwefi likes it because Okonkwo won her heart there; Ezinma, Ekwefi’s child, takes food to Okonkwo; Okonkwo likes her because she has a masculine personality and is very strong
Chapter 6 The wrestling match takes place-boys 15 and 16 go first; Obierika’s son wins easily; Ekwefi talks to Chielo, the priest of the earth goddess, about Ezinma and they conclude that she has come to stay because she is already 10
Chapter 7 Ikemefuna stays with Okonkwo for 3 years; Okonkwo tells Ikemefuna and Nwoye violent, masculine stories; locusts descend upon Umuofia-the village collects them to eat because they only come once a generation for 7 years; Ezeudu tells Okonkwo that Ikemefuna must die and that he should not play a part in it because he calls him father-shows us about other Igbo men; Okonkwo gives the fatal blow-shows that he values strength and how other people percieve him more than protecting people who he loves and what is right; Okonkwo reaches out to Nwoye but Nwoye can’t forgive him; the Oracle declared the Ikemefuna must be killed and Okonkwo uses that to justify his actions (fate or Okonkwo’s violence?)
Chapter 8 Okonkwo becomes depressed and doesn’t sleep or eat for 3 days until Ezinma forces him to (he wishes she were a boy); he visits his friend Obierika and congratulates his son; he stays for the bargaining of the bride-price for Obierika’s daughter-he complains about his own sons; Obierika disagrees with Okonkwo’s decision with being involved in Ikemefuna’s killing; Okonkwo comes to the conclusion that he was only sad because he was idle-if it was busier he wouldn’t have been so sad; news about an old man and his wife dying come to the village-Okonkwo questions his strength because he was so attached to his wife; after the bargaining, they talk about the “white-skinned” man named Amadi
Chapter 9 Ekwefi wakes up Okonkwo to tell him Ezinma is dying-he starts to make medicine for her fever; Ezinma and Ekwefi’s relationship symbolizes equality; Ekwefi had 9 children who died young because she had an ogbanje-a wicked child who re-enters the womb only to die again; a medicine man mutilates the body of one infant to discourage the ogbanje and then finds Ezinma’s iyi-uwa, a pebble that is the physical link to the spirit world for the ogbanje-it is destroyed and Ezinma lives for a long time
Chapter 10 9 men in masks (egwugwu) and their leader, Evil Forest; woman and 2 brothers vs. husband; the wife “ran away” the husband was beating her; the verdict does not involve imprisonment or violence; he must apologize, beg for her return, bring palm wine, and atone (beg for forgiveness and admit what you did wrong)
Chapter 11 The story Ekwefi tells Ezinma has 2 purposes: to explain how things are and to show the Igbo value of names; Chielo comes to take Ezinma for Agbala; their religion is deeply tied to fate so Ekwefi cannot refuse, Ezinma must go (Ikemefuna’s death was fate from Agbala); Ekwefi tries to refuse, wants to go with Chielo and Ezinma; Okonkwo and Ekwefi are contrasted (as parents)-different definitions of strength; Chielo carries Ezinma off on her back, Ekwefi follows; Chielo starts to run with superhuman strength (from the gods?); Ekwefi continues to follow-she is determined and strong; Chielo takes Ezinma to the cave, Ekwefi waits outside; Okonkwo appears to wait with Ekwefi-finally supports her; the reader learns more about Ekwefi and Okonkwo; Ekwefi is attracted to his masculinity; Could not marry him first because he is too poor–>drives his motivation to be successful
Chapter 12 Obierika’s daughter’s uri-a ceremony as part of the marriage; suitor brings 50 pots of palm wine-sign of respect; Achebe shows the reader the intricacies of this society; Chielo carries Ezinma home; cow being let loose shows that the women are obligated to come out and help –> togetherness/help eachother; ceremony is about the groom not the bride
Chapter 13 Ezeudu’s death triggers a lot of feelings for Okonkwo; he is not over Ikemefuna’s death and his guilt; Ezeudu warned Okonkwo not to kill Ikemefuna; Okonkwo’s gun explodes during the ceremony and kills Ezeudu’s oldest son; Okonkwo must flee for 7 years but he may return after; Female (accidental) vs. male (agressive, on purpose) crimes; Okonkwo’s crime is female- he did not intend to kill anyone, but must be punished (FATE OR JUST AN ACCIDENT?); Okonkwo must flee with his family; the tribe must burn all of his property; if they don’t, they’ll be punished by the gods; Obierika is unsure/hesitant (QUESTIONS TRADITION)

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